U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu never set out to resist President Donald Trump. With over half a million twitter followers, he has become one of the leading voices in the #RESIST movement, an organized effort to oppose President Trump’s agenda.
“The reason I’m in politics I think has to do with how I came here,” Congressman Lieu said on a bright Thursday afternoon in his Los Angeles office, in California’s 33rd congressional district. The representative is an immigrant, who settled in Cleveland with his family when he was a young child. His parents began selling gifts and jewelry at flea markets, and as their success grew, they opened up six stores in shopping centers and malls. “In my mind, they achieved the American Dream…I believe I can never give back to America what this amazing country has given to me.” At a young age, he realized and appreciated the opportunities that America presented, and by serving in both the military and congress, he wants to “keep this dream open for people who want to work hard and succeed.”
Prior to running for office, Congressman Lieu served in the JAG Corps, the legal arm of the United States military. “I think having been in the military is helpful [to being a political leader] because you realize how dangerous some people, organizations, and countries are.” Because of his experience in the military, he believes he differs from some Democrats who did not serve in that veterans like himself “are very, very cautious when it comes to use of military force.”
Although he is known on social media for his feisty tweets opposing President Trump’s agenda, he says he “did not run for congress to resist the President.” Shortly after Donald Trump was first elected, he issued a public statement expressing his desire for Americans to “give him a chance to govern.” About two months after he made that statement, he felt his initial assessment was incorrect. “It wasn’t because we disagreed on policies,” he said, “ it was because he was attacking the institutions of our democracy. He was attacking the first amendment, and the freedom of the press, and journalists. He was attacking the legitimacy of the judiciary. He was stifling internal descent. He was lying at a rate I’ve never seen a human being lie.”
When President Trump issues misleading statements or lies, “it makes it so that the people sometimes have difficulty understanding what is true and what is false, and that is a danger to the republic,” Congressman Lieu gradually crescendos to a rally-like phrase, “that’s why I resist him.”
Another reason why Congressman Lieu resists the President is due to “his attacks on this first amendment and the free press,” he said. “I think the free press is one of the most important watchdogs against both private and public sector corruption and misconduct.”
Even with his “resisting” to the president, Lieu touts his belief in the legislative idea, rather than his absolute support for individuals. In response to President Trump’s State of the Union address, Lieu said he would support “paid family leave, prison reform, and infrastructure” policies, as President Trump mentioned. These were among some of the “ideas that he had that I thought could get bipartisan support, depending on the details,” Lieu stated. He highlighted the enduring infrastructure conversation as a potential example. “Last year my colleagues and I introduced a $2 trillion infrastructure plan. He talked about a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. There’s potentially room to work together and move America forward,” he added.
Just as Congressman Lieu hopes to achieve bipartisan accomplishments, he’s anticipating major gains for the Democratic Party in the upcoming midterms. While President Trump’s agenda seems to be progressing, Congressman Lieu said he “see[s] hope in a lot of places.” He pointed to the Women’s Marches and the unexpected democratic wins in Virginia’s delegate elections in November.
“Seeing these amazing women’s marches all across America…changed everything. And my view was, ‘That’s the America I know.'”